Editors’ note : This article was originally published on Feb. 13, 2017. Since that meter, AT & T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all announced multiple changes to their outright data plans. The data below reflects the prices and features of inexhaustible plans as of Sept. 4, 2018 .
Data limits, prioritization and throttling
The outright plans from the big four carriers all come with unlimited speak, texting and data — oh, if only things were that square. But there ‘s a catch — when you hit a certain data specify, your 4G LTE data speeds can be slowed temporarily or for the remainder of the charge cycle. Some carriers like Verizon send your data needs to the back of the line. here ‘s how each carrier handles prioritization and throttling when you cross your data restrict :
Verizon : “ We may prioritize your data behind other Verizon customers during network congestion. ” T-Mobile : “ On all T-Mobile plans, during congestion, the small fraction of customers using more than 50GB per calendar month may notice reduced speeds until future circular cycle due to prioritization. ” AT & T : “ On AT & T Unlimited & More premium, after 22GB of data use on a line in a circular cycle, for the remainder of the cycle a customer may temporarily experience reduced speeds on that line during times of network congestion. On AT & T Unlimited & More, for all data usage, customer may temporarily experience reduced speeds on these wrinkle ( second ) during times of network congestion. ” dash : “ Customers who use more than 50GB of data during a charge cycle will be ‘deprioritized ‘ during times & places where the Sprint net is constrained. ”
Cost for a single line
obviously, one of the reasons outright plans exist is to offer lots of data at a fair price — reasonable enough to beat overage charges. here ‘s what a unmarried line of outright data on each carrier costs. Sprint ‘s unlimited Plus at $ 70 per month and T-Mobile ‘s One Plus at $ 80 per calendar month are two of the best values giving you hotspot data and 1080p HD video pour — the higher monetary value of the T-Mobile plan includes taxes, fees and surcharges . Peter Cade/Getty Images A few notes on these plans :
- The plans for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon do not include taxes, surcharges or additional fees. These vary wildly depending on where you live.
- All of the plans include an autopay discount: $5 a month for Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon and $10 a month for AT&T.
- T-Mobile Essentials, T-Mobile One, Sprint Unlimited Basic and Verizon gounlimited plans limit you to standard-definition video and only 3G hotspot support.
- AT&T’s Unlimited &More plan limits you to standard-definition video with streaming speeds capped at 1.5 Mbps and doesn’t include hotspot data.
- All the carriers included streaming services to sweeten their unlimited plans. These plans range from a 6-month free trial of Apple Music by Verizon to Amazon Prime, Hulu and Tidal included in Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan.
Comparison of individual line unlimited data plans with autopay discounts applied
|Carrier||Unlimited data monthly cost||Data limit||Video streaming — up to||Hotspot allowance||Bundled streaming services included|
|Sprint Unlimited Basic||$60||50GB/month||480p SD||500MB||Hulu Limited Commercials|
|T-Mobile Essentials||$60||50GB/month||480p SD||3G data speeds only||none|
|Sprint Unlimited Plus||$70||50GB/month||1080p HD||15GB||Amazon Prime, Hulu Limited Commercials, Tidal Premium|
|T-Mobile One||$70||50GB/month||480p SD||3G data speeds only||Netflix Standard with 2 lines or more|
|AT&T Unlimited &More||$70||22GB/month||480p SD||none||WatchTV (live TV)|
|Verizon “gounlimited”||$75||none||480p SD||3G data speeds only||Apple Music for 6 months|
|T-Mobile One Plus||$80||50GB/month||1080p HD||10GB||Netflix Standard with 2 lines or more|
|AT&T Unlimited &More Premium||$80||22GB/month||1080p HD||15GB||1 premiun channel and WatchTV (live TV)|
|Verizon “beyondunlimited”||$85||22GB/month||720p HD||15GB||Apple Music for 6 months|
|Sprint Unlimited Premium||$90||50GB/month||1080p HD||50GB||Amazon Prime, Hulu Limited Commercials, Tidal Premium|
|Verizon “aboveunlimited”||$95||75GB/month||720p HD||20GB||Apple Music for 6 months|
Taxes, fees and surcharges
T-Mobile has done away with the taxes, fees and surcharges that earphone plans normally have — kind of. The mailman simplified pricing for its customers by folding those extra costs into the monetary value of its plans. So a $ 60 per calendar month plan on T-Mobile actually costs $ 60. obviously, if you ‘re financing your earphone your bill will besides include that price .
AT & T, Sprint and Verizon data design prices do not include taxes, surcharges or extra fees. Trying to estimate how much these will cost you is a study in patience because these extra costs vary quite a act depending on where you live. To help this, each carrier has a locate to help you estimate how much it those charges will be : AT & T, Sprint and Verizon .
Cost for additional lines
If you need extra lines of unlimited data, each of the big four has a crop of prices. Below are the monthly prices for one, two, three and four lineage bundles .
Comparison of extra lines of unlimited data with autopay discounts applied
|Carrier||First line Cost||Second line cost||Third line cost||Fourth line cost||Total monthly cost for four lines|
|Sprint Unlimited Basic||$60||$40||$20||$20||$140|
|AT&T Unlimited &More||$70||$55||$20||$15||$160|
|Sprint Unlimited Plus||$70||$50||$30||$30||$170|
|AT&T Unlimited &More Premium||$80||$70||$20||$20||$190|
|T-Mobile One Plus||$80||$60||$30||$30||$200|
|Sprint Unlimited Premium||$90||$70||$50||$50||$260|
All four carriers offer postpaid plans with unlimited data. For a more detail comparison of prepay plans from both major and regional carriers read our roundup of the best postpaid radio receiver plans for 2018 .
Comparison prepaid outright data plans with autopay discount rate applied
|Carrier||Data limit||Video streaming (up to)||Hotspot allowance||Monthly cost|
|AT&T Unlimited||22GB per month||480p SD||none||$55|
|Sprint Forward Unlimited||23GB per month||1080p HD||10GB||$60|
|T-Mobile One Prepaid||10GB per month||480p SD||Up to data allotment||$70|
|Verizon prepaidunlimited||None||480p SD||3G data speeds only||$75|
|AT&T Unlimited Plus||22GB per month||1080p HD||10GB||$75|
HD video vs. SD video
here ‘s where things get slippery. Despite all these plans being outright, the carriers cheapest plans limit the video you stream to 480p standard definition — think DVD quality. That means if you ‘re on T-Mobile Essentials, T-Mobile One, Sprint Unlimited Basic, AT & T Unlimited & More or Verizon gounlimited that streaming videos will not in HD. It would be such a bummer to have a Galaxy S9 with its gorgeous 2,960×1,440-pixel blind and only to be able to watch video at less than one-tenth the resoluteness. But if you pay more, and are on AT & T Unlimited & More premium, Sprint Unlimited Plus, Sprint Unlimited Premium and T-Mobile One Plus the carriers let you use the outright data you bought to stream video at 1080p HD resoluteness. Verizon ‘s higher cost beyondunlimited and aboveunlimited plans let you stream at HD, but it ‘s only 720p . Josh Miller/CNET
Mobile hotspot data
All carriers offer hotspots with LTE data speeds, but not all plans do. besides, keep in mind there are limits on how much data you can use. Sprint ‘s unlimited Premium design gives you 50GB of hot spot LTE datum. T-Mobile One and Verizon ‘s gounlimited give you unlimited mobile hot spot streaming at 3G speeds. AT & T Unlimited & More gives you nothing .
- Sprint Unlimited Premium — 50GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- Verizon aboveunlimited — 20GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- Verizon beyondunlimited — 15GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- AT&T Unlimited &More Premium — 15GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- Sprint Unlimited Plus — 15GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- T-Mobile One Plus — 10GB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- Sprint Unlimited Basic — 500MB per month of mobile hotspot LTE data
- Verizon gounlimited — hotspot access at 3G data speeds
- T-Mobile One — hotspot access only at 3G data speeds
- T-Mobile Essentials — hotspot access only at 3G data speeds
- AT&T Unlimited &More — no mobile hotspot data
Unlimited plan savings
I recommend checking carrier websites from time to fourth dimension for deals and discounts on inexhaustible data plans. For exercise, Sprint presently offers a $ 20 discount per month, per line on its Unlimited Basic plan when you bring your own device or buy one outright. Carriers besides offer discounts for members of the military, veterans and their families .
The final word
It is rightfully fantastic to have unlimited data options from all four major US carriers. This comparison of costs and features is just part of the bigger picture though. Keep in mind early factors that will hit your wallet : the cost of the earphone, strain warranties, taxes, surcharges and activation fees — the survive three of which T-Mobile has folded into its pricing. It ‘s besides deserving considering network coverage and the quality of that coverage, excessively. But before you do anything, take a look at how a lot cellular datum you ‘re presently using. There ‘s no need to be on an inexhaustible plan, if you do n’t use lots of data. hera are links to each carrier ‘s inexhaustible plans : dash, AT & T, T-Mobile, Verizon.
Best prepaid radio plans for 2018 : Verizon, AT & T, Sprint, Boost and more compared. Unlocked phones vs. locked : Everything you need to know .